|Album Review: Chris Crack — Might Delete Later|
Might Delete Later
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Chris Crack has truly mastered the art of the song title and its potential powers of attraction. His new album, Might Delete Later, has a fairly innocuous title, but a closer look quickly reveals tracks with such whimsical titles as “Jesus Dropped the Charges”, “Ghetto Until Proven Fashionable” and “Fapping Ruined My Life”. This drops a subtle hint straight away that Chris’s tongue is firmly lodged in his cheek, however relatable the last example may first appear. Humour is something sorely lacking in hip-hop currently, with each rapper seemingly competing to be the most real, the most emotional, the most conscious. In the field of most funny, only Chris Crack and a few carefully selected peers can lay a claim.
As a whole, this album, Chris’s first for Fool's Gold, is a more stripped back affair, allowing the vocals and their many knowing turns of phrase to take centre stage. The sound is more R&B-influenced than previous releases, featuring a lot of autotuned hooks which still have the air of parody, even if at times you’re not sure. On “Ghetto Until Proven Fashionable” he proclaims himself an “R&B gangsta”, again a claim it’s hard to know whether to take seriously. This ambiguity is a big part of Chris’s appeal. His flow is irrepressible as always, and bouncing over more minimal production lets its full impact be felt. His relationship with the music is not exactly symbiotic as he will not let himself be upstaged by any person, beat or obscure film sample.
The jazzy, piano-led number “King of the Living Room” finds Chris at his erratic best, combining social critique, trolling, egregious flossing and ruminations on life in a strange but enticing cocktail.
“Everything we doing now, back then I was trying to say this,
They ain’t give us our mule and our 40 acres,
Let me get a vegan burger with a side of bacon,
It’s godforsaken, life’s impossible, nobody aced it”
The unpredictability of the switch in topics every couple of bars, occasionally every half a bar, are hilariously at odds with the smooth soul production and soothing wah-wah guitars. Sometimes things that make no sense make the most sense of all.
The aforementioned “Fapping Ruined My Life” is the first excursion into traditional dark and gritty hip-hop territory and Chris gives it his braggadocious best. He tells tales of effervescent switchblade work, of besting impudent rappers by day and indulging in carnal desires by night over a bottom-heavy beat which bangs and crackles in equal measure. “Trill is an Onomatopoeia” veers the album back into the R&B lane, soulful singing breathlessly breezing over what some might call “Future Soul”, but most probably won’t.
Underground Brooklyn hero Mr Muthafuckin Exquire drops by for a guest spot on “Keisha Cole Slaw”, excellent pun work noted. Exquire brings a more chilled, sing-song style than I’m accustomed to from him, and the Slick Rick comparisons are uncanny. His blunted flow and jaded world view seem to be emerging from a fog with important news.
“Spoiler warning, I'm an oracle,
Gone off two 20 milligram Adderalls and a double goose,
Frozen memories, when you sleep they can trouble you,
So watch the ones that you keep all in your circumference fool”
At the back end of the album, “Flip Phone Hangup” manages to bring the word 'funky' out of retirement after 25 years, as well as the style of hip-hop it describes. Chris rides the perky, golden age, almost-Jurassic 5 beat with lyrics which are the antithesis of everything that scene represented, as he raps about his preferred narcotic to dispense to the fiends. Classic misdirection and subversion of our expectations by that scamp. Chris is joined by fellow Chicago native U.G.L.Y Boy Modeling School, who brings his booming baritone through in an all-too-brief 8-bar verse. He closes it out with the boast of claiming the “High score for the most kills bitch, side-line commentators, ‘He got skills, shit!’” Chicago can lay claim to some to some of the most original talent in hip-hop at the moment, with Chris and U.G.L.Y being joined by the likes of Open Mike Eagle and Quelle Chris in the pocket of Chi-Town artists with similar sensibilities.
As a whole, the album tries some new things, some of which hit and some of which don’t. However, such is the power of Chris Crack and his death-defying post-ironic stunts, you are convinced that even the misses are intentional, an integral part of the wider tapestry of his legacy. Damn, he’s good. It’s a niche market, but the crown of the king of “Satirical R&B Gangsta Croon” only belongs on one head. Buy the album here.